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October 23, 1997

Transaction Analysis

October 14-20

by Christina Kahrl

ANAHEIM ANGELS

Outrighted RHP Fausto Macey and C Brett Hemphill to Vancouver, and announced that RHP Shad Williams rejected an assignment to Vancouver, cleared waivers, and is now a free agent. [10/16]

This is pretty straightforward roster cleaning prior to the expansion draft and the Rule V draft; Williams was never really a prospect, and this is the year to take the plunge and try to catch on with another organization in the hope that he can land the 11th spot on some team somewhere.

BOSTON RED SOX

Activated 3B Tim Naehring and LHP Chris Hammond from the DL. [10/18]

The question here is whether either will be retained. Hammond should declare free agency after the World Series, while Dan Duquette should leave Naehring available for the expansion draft. With his injury history, Naehring makes a risky choice with the obvious potential to help a team, but no amount of surgery is going to make his legs the same length and thus eliminate his chronic back problems.

CHICAGO CUBS

Claimed 2B Jason Hardtke off of waivers from the Mets; exercised the club option on the 1998 contract of LHP Bob Patterson; added DH Rod McCall to the 40-man roster. [10/16]

In a perfect world (well, a better one), the Cubs will be lucky enough to have a middle infield of Hardtke and Jose Hernandez, instead of the alternative atrocity of Alexander and Cairo. The virtues are pretty straightforward: either the Cubs will want to win more than 40% of their games, or they're shooting to set an all-time franchise low in HRs in '98. Adding McCall is simply bizarre, although it does prevent McCall from leaving as a minor league free agent.

BOSTON RED SOX

Outrighted OF Curtis Pride, LHP Rafael Orellano, and RHP Carlos Valdez to Pawtucket, and added OF Pat Bryant to the 40-man roster. [10/16]

Orellano has turned into a major disappointment, posting an ERA over 7 for a second year. Valdez was a low-risk gamble to see if he would develop, and he hasn't, so no skin off of the Duke's nose.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Claimed LHP Bryan Ward off of waivers from Florida. [10/15]

Ward got his first shot at AAA this year, and was a disaster (2-9, 6.93 ERA), before going back to Portland for a third year, where he recovered nicely (6-3, 3.91, with an outstanding control). He's unlikely to ever turn into something more than useful roster filler at AA or AAA, but with the Sox likely to go with a very young staff at the major league level, Ward will be useful from an organizational point of view.

DETROIT TIGERS

Claimed RHP Bill Hurst off of waivers from Florida, and designated LHP Glenn Dishman for assignment. [10/15]

Hurst is turning into Rudy Seanez without the anecdotes or press clippings. He throws a nasty sinker that coincidentally blows out his arm, making him almost the exact opposite of Bryan Ward, who lacks an outstanding pitch but who won't keel over and die as often as Hurst has.

FLORIDA MARLINS

Outrighted LHP Kirt Ojala and 1B Russ Morman to Charlotte. [10/15]

Life is tough when you have talent coming out of your ears: they lost Hurst and Ward, which won't cause Dave Dombrowski to lose a moment's sleep, and they can afford to lose Ojala to expansion, the Rule V draft, or minor league free agency after a solid '97 season. He could easily be in a major league rotation next year, while Morman could wind up with a bench job after poking 30 taters for Charlotte this year.

HOUSTON ASTROS

Announced that bench coach Bill Virdon will not return for the '98 season. [10/16]

At his age (66), apparently Virdon wasn't up to the constant travel, and had done his part as Dierker's mentor during his first season. He's been touted as an outstanding teacher and man who deserves the respect of anyone who follows the game, so here's hoping he still contributes to somebody in some fashion.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Announced that RHP Ben McDonald has exercised his option for the '98 season. [10/17]

The fallout of the strange sequence of events that saw McDonald schedule an appointment with his doctor before making the start that clinched his access to this option is still coming down, with the bad blood you'd expect. We'll have to see, but there are rumors that this can be added to that long list of "Reasons to Despise Scott Boras" that hangs in the executive washroom in the commissioner's (vacant) offices.

MINNESOTA TWINS

Re-signed 1B Jamie Ogden to a major-league contract, and re-signed OFs Keith Legree, J.J. Johnson, and RHP Travist Baptist to minor league contracts; DH Paul Molitor declined to pick up his option for '98, and has elected to become a free agent; LHP Scott Aldred refused assignment, and has become a free agent. [10/18]

Molitor, citing the uncertainty of the team's "direction" (both in the standings and whether its staying in Minnesota or not), suddenly decided he didn't need to keep playing at home any longer. While there's the rumor that he could be a player-manager for the Jays, he could also wind up going back to Milwaukee if the Brewers don't move to the NL.

NEW YORK METS

Outrighted LHP Riccardo Jordan to Norfolk. [10/16]

Since he has reasonable velocity for a lefty, there's a pretty good chance Jordan won't still be with the Mets by January.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Outrighted CF Damon Mashore, RHPs Dave Telgheder and Carlos Reyes, and LHPs Andrew Lorraine and Steve Wojciechowski to Edmonton. [10/15]

Claimed LHP Vaughn Eshelman off of waivers from Boston. [10/16]

Promoted Assistant GM Billy Beane to GM, and announced that GM Sandy Alderson will remain with the club as President of Baseball Operations. [10/18]

Mashore's constant injury problems have killed off his shot at being more than a useful fourth or fifth OF, and although Reyes and co. are off of the 40-man roster, I can't shake that unhappy sense of foreboding that all of them will be back in green and gold next summer. As for Eshelman, he's come to the right place to get a shot. Sandy's move out of the day-to-day operations of the club can be interpreted in several ways, which speculation that he could be angling for higher offices in baseball and/or concentrating on finding the franchise a new venue. As for 'Guillermo Frijoles,' he's been groomed for the role for years, so his elevation shouldn't surprise anyone.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Released 1B Eddie Williams, and outrighted LHP Matt Ruebel and RHP John Ericks to Calgary. [10/16]

Ericks is heading down the path blazed by John Hudek, where the expectation that he'd be the new Todd Worrell or something winds up being a bunch of hot air. If, after this latest injury, he still has his velocity, he'll be in better shape than Hudek to re-start his career.

SAN DIEGO PADRES

Claimed INF Ed Giovanola off of waivers from Atlanta. [10/13]

Exercised their 1998 option for the contract of UT Archi Cianfrocco. [10/18]

It seems a bit strange to be putting the finishing touches on the team's bench right now, but both Giovanola and Cianfrocco are useful to have around as spare parts.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Fired pitching coach Dick Pole. [10/16]

Pole has had mixed results in his stints with the Giants and with the Cubs, but he's also overseen some notable succeses: Shawn Estes and Kirk Rueter blossomed this year, as well as the resurrections of Mike Bielecki (in '89) and Mark Gardner. The extent to which either he or Dusty or Sabean deserve blame for the strange roster shuffling the Giants indulged in with last two slots on the pitching staff, or the heavy usage of some relievers, is debatable. He should resurface somewhere.

SEATTLE MARINERS

Outrighted LHP Marc Holzemer to Tacoma, and released LHP Greg Hibbard. [10/17]

Claimed OF Decomba Conner off of waivers from Detroit, and placed him on the 40-man roster. [10/18]

Conner's aspirations to graduate from being the next Kerwin Moore to being the next Gary Pettis still aren't going well; what this move really spells out is the extent to which the Mariners are in very poor shape after their desperate stretch drive acquisitions from the last three years, that they have the roster space handy for Conner now.

This might finally be the end of Greg Hibbard's career, since he's stuck around as an excuse for postseason roster juggling the last few years. If the rules dictating eligibility for postseason roster are, at long last, changed, they should probably be named the "Hibbard Rule," although the "Wolcott Rule" or the "Cloude Rule" are equally appropriate. At any rate, I'd like to take the time to mention that regardless of what his career descended into, "Bulldog" was a lonely highlight in the nearly deserted spaces of Old Comiskey in the summer of '89, and for this member of those happy few, always a pitcher I'll remember fondly.

Christina Kahrl is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christina's other articles. You can contact Christina by clicking here

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